What level of training is included? Are there additional levels of training for heavy-duty users?
This isn’t a question, but during demos, you want to see how easy the product is to use. Look beyond the bells and whistles to the core functionality you’ll use most often -- if it’s hard to use, that’s a problem.
Once you’ve taken a look at the product, it’s time to ask existing users how they like it.
Questions for References
You wouldn’t hire someone for your office without checking references. Don’t “hire” software without checking out it’s references.
If you get any pushback about talking to references that should raise a HUGE red flag about either the software or the company you’re working with to implement the software.
Don’t just rely on vendor references either. A quick look through LinkedIn and user groups could land you a conversation with a non-vetted user of the product. They can provide additional insight reinforcing how great the company is -- or not.
That’s a long way of saying talk to someone who’s used the product. You won’t regret it.
Before you have a conversation, make sure you know the role of the person you’re talking to. The head of IT might have a different opinion on the ease-of-use of the product than the power user who uses the system daily.
Why this product? Did you choose it over others and why?
How much was training?
Did it take long for everyone to learn the basics of how to use the new system?
Do you integrate the software into other systems? How difficult or simple is the maintenance of those links if you do?
Why did you originally purchase the product? Has your use of the product expanded over time? How and why?
What do you like best about the software?
Are there things about the product that you don’t like?
About the implementation -- how long did it take? Was it on schedule? Did it go smoothly?
Have you needed to call for support and, if so, how helpful were they?
Would you make the same decision today knowing what you know now?
This isn’t everything you could ask, but these are the essential questions to ask before rolling out any new piece of software into your IT infrastructure.
While this seems like an extra step that just adds time to the process, think about how much time and energy it will take to fix the mess made by skipping this step and choosing a product that’s a horrible fit for your business.